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Next Ford Focus ST may gain auto

Shifting gears: The new-gen Focus ST is yet to be revealed, but it will likely sit above the ST-Line (left and below) in the Focus line-up.

Ford’s upcoming Golf GTI-baiting Focus ST may finally be offered with an automatic

23 Jul 2018


FORD is believed to be developing an automatic version of its upcoming fourth-generation Focus ST that is due to be released in Australia later next year, and it will mark the Blue Oval’s first auto-equipped hot hatch.
Set to be offered as an option alongside the standard six-speed manual gearbox, the self-shifter would significantly broaden Ford’s appeal against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Renault Megane RS, which are both offered with dual-clutch transmissions.
While he refused to confirm the existence of a Focus ST auto, Ford ‘C2’ architecture chief engineer Michael Blischke said that the introduction of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters would not be limited to the new ST-Line that is expected to sit just below the hot-hatch variants.
“If we have a paddle shift on the lower models, it wouldn’t make sense not to have it on the higher models,” he told Australian journalists at the first international drive of the Focus in France last week.
Expected to debut at the Geneva motor show next March, the next-generation Focus ST is rumoured to be switching to a detuned version of the 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo powering other fast Fords such as the latest Mustang EcoBoost and outgoing Focus RS.
Unlike the latter, however, the newcomer will continue to be offered only in front-drive guise.
Reports have suggested that power output for this engine could sit somewhere around 190kW for the ST.
The future RS due in 2020, meanwhile, is said to be adopting electric-hybrid assistance, as well as continuing with all-wheel-drive traction, to boost that figure well beyond the 257kW of today’s Focus flagship.
Whether the anticipated ST auto in question would be a development of one of the two eight-speed torque converter transmissions that are also found in the new lower-line Focus models is not known. 
It could also be the ten-speed torque-converter unit from the Mustang EcoBoost, or another gearbox type altogether such as a dual or multi-clutch arrangement.  
Whatever transpires, in manual form at least, the next Focus ST is likely to continue carrying its predecessor’s mantle as one of the segment’s key driver’s cars, since some 80kg is likely to be shed compared to before, while the C2 architecture that underpins the fourth-generation Ford small car is lower, longer, wider and stronger than the old item. 
All steering and suspension components are box-fresh too, with “a maniacal obsession to steering feel”, according to C2 architecture driving dynamics manager, Guy Mathot.
Sales of the mainstream SA-series Focus, to be sourced solely out of Germany for Australia for the time being, will start in November in Trend, Titanium and ST-Line varieties.
A manual proposition its entire run, the ST has been a mainstay in the Focus range since the LR-series ST170 original was revealed late in the edgy original’s lifecycle in 2002. 
That was powered by an uprated version of a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing just 127kW and 196Nm of torque. 
Badged XR5 Turbo, the second-gen LS/LT/LV ST switched to Volvo’s rorty 166kW/320Nm 2.5-litre in-line five-pot turbo, while the outgoing LW-LZ-series ST employs a 184kW/340Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo.   

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